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Commission Delivers Draft Kenya Constitution to Attorney General

Defying a court order, Kenya's Constitutional Review Commission Tuesday handed over a draft constitution to the country's attorney general.

Cheers, chanting and songs filled the hall as the constitutional Review Commission chairman, Yash Pal Ghai, presented an advanced copy of Kenya's draft constitution to Attorney General Amos Wako.

"I want to symbolize the passing of the responsibility to parliament by handing him a copy now in front of you all," he said.

It took the more than 600 delegates representing a cross-section of Kenyans more than a year to draw up the new constitution.

Tuesday's ceremony contravened an eleventh-hour court injunction imposed late Monday by High Court Judge Philip Ransley who ruled that parts of the draft were not properly debated. The government had pulled out of the conference over the same issue.

The government's problem with the draft is that it redistributes key presidential powers to the prime minister.

Politicians aligned with President Mwai Kibaki say, they prefer the new constitution to have a strong presidency and a weak prime minister.

Despite the injunction, the attorney general, who referred to himself as delegate number 575, proceeded with the handing-over ceremony.

"And I can assure delegates that there is nothing in the order that was obtained in the court yesterday to stop delegate number 575 from receiving this advance copy," the attorney general said.

The draft will be fine-tuned by the commission and resubmitted to the attorney general, who will then have 14 days to present it to parliament for adoption.

The government says it will propose legislation that would allow the parliament to amend the draft constitution before submitting it to a national referendum.

But members of the review commission say that would violate earlier legislation that gave the review commission, and not the parliament, the final say on the text.